Like Guitar Hero, the Tony Hawk video game franchise has become a sort of punchline regarding Activision’s hubris; the once critically acclaimed and commerically popular series was slowly killed by overexposure and a series of unimaginative, rushed sequels. The series peaked with THPS3, and while they weren’t all terrible, every sequel after that added new features that nobody asked for, nor wanted: bizarre, often embarrassing attempts at a storyline, open world structures, celebrity cameos, plastic skateboard controllers, side missions that had nothing to do with skating, etc. The series got farther and farther away from the core elements that made it great, and Activision has wisely decided to take things back to the basics with the upcoming Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD.
Now, this generation has been flooded with “HD” remakes of old titles, but Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD doesn’t simply upscale the first Tony Hawk games, (of which this game’s levels and controls are based on,) rather, it modernizes them with current pro-skaters, and adds online features like leaderboards, which should add a lot of replay value into a score based game like this.
Despite my complete disinterest in skateboarding in real life, I absolutely loved the first two Tony Hawk games. The amount of hours I logged on the Dreamcast versions of those games are probably only surpassed by the hundreds of hours I spent on Phantasy Star Online, and considering that the first 2 THPS are limited to 2-minute time limits per run, that means I must’ve skated through each of those levels hundreds of times. While I originally didn’t mind the switch to an open world for THPS4 and the original Tony Hawk Underground, the series started to lose its focus around THUG2 and every sequel after that became increasingly asinine and tired, so I’m glad to see the return of the classic arcade-style structure.
The game is being developed by Robomodo, rather than the original team at Neversoft, which might be some cause for concern, considering Robomodo’s only other experience with the series was the frankly terrible Tony Hawk Ride and Tony Hawk Shred, both of which were based around the use of a motion-sensing skateboard peripheral. Thankfully, THPS HD uses a standard controller, and as a recent article on 1up points out, the problems with Ride and Shred weren’t necessarily Robomodo’s fault, so here’s hoping they can bring their A-game for this remake.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD will be released this summer, assumedly over PSN and XBLA, for $15.